Tuesday, April 26, 2022

The Perspective, The Promise, The Power

 


This message was preached at Word Of Grace Church on April 24th 2022  by Abhishek via zoom. For the audio & video please click here.  To listen to the worship please click here.


Promise. Perspective. Power

Acts 1: 1-10

 Acts 1: 1-10

Promise. Perspective. Power

Summary: The Promise and the right Perspective give us the Power to Proclaim. Acts 1-10

1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day in which [a]He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, 3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many [b]infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be [c]witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,

 

The book of Acts is like a second part of a 2 part book, Luke the author, is writing this to the same Theophilus to whom he had written the Gospel of Luke. So Luke continues from where the Gospel of Luke ended. We see a resurrected Jesus being seen by the Apostles for 40 days and Jesus continuing to teach them and remind them about the Promise of the Father, which He had spoken about earlier and speaking to them about the Kingdom of God.

All this while the Apostles had yet not grasped the full significance of what Jesus had just achieved on the Cross, we see them yet expecting Jesus to overthrow the Roman rule and establish the Kingdom of Israel. So Jesus again patiently, I would think, explains to them what their role is in the greater picture, about God being the supreme planner that He alone knows about the times and seasons, but Jesus also tells something amazing that they are going to receive power to be His witnesses not just in Jerusalem or just in Israel but in the whole world. And then the Apostles see something truly awe-inspiring, they see Jesus being taken up in a cloud and while they are seeing that two men in white apparel come and stand next to them.

 

If I had to summarize the message I have from this passage it would be this:

The Promise and the right Perspective give us the Power to proclaim.

 

1.    The Promise: The Holy Spirit

Jesus mentioned the Promise of the Father, The Holy Spirit which God had promised long ago, we see this being repeated in different ways in the OT in Ezekiel 36:26-27 God says He will put His Spirit within us, in Joel 2:28-29 it says God will pour out His Spirit on all mankind, this was the verse which Peter quoted on Pentecost. The Holy Spirit was also something which the OT prophets and people longed for, in the OT the Spirit would ‘come upon’ people for a while in which they did great deeds- prophesied like Saul, or were valiant in battle etc. but the Spirit


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of God would then depart. But for us, we have such a great Promise, that the Holy Spirit be our counsellor, our guide (John 16:13), our helper (Romans 8:26-27), He would be our Teacher (John 14:26), that we would have sweet fellowship with Him (2 Cor 13:14), Jesus had mentioned that He would not leave us as orphans, His Spirit with us is a fulfilment of that. In fact, Emanuel- God with us, is also this very promise, His Spirit with us, sealed until the day of redemption. 

I was reading about this promise and one theologian (forgive me for I don’t remember the name) had this very interesting point to make, I am paraphrasing- Once we receive the Holy Spirit, The Spirit calmly becomes a part of our conscience, our inner being. So at all times, we have His counsel, the calm, still voice. Amazing isn't it?

That’s the Promise we have! Then what do we do with it? Is it only for us to be able to know the will of God in our personal lives as some may think? Jesus already answered this, which brings me to the second point:-

 

2.    Perspective

The Apostles had just witnessed a once in a lifetime event, the resurrection of Jesus, and they had heard Jesus talk about the Kingdom of God multiple times during His discourse, and yet we see they had yet not gained a Kingdom perspective, they were expecting a very here and now the Kingdom of Israel, expecting Jesus to be the One who establishes that. And Jesus again gives them a Kingdom perspective- The Kingdom of God, in fact, Acts 1: 3 mentions Jesus was talking to them about things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

We need to be careful that being caught up in all things of the here and now, we don’t lose the perspective of the Kingdom of God, the perspective of Eternity, 2 Cor 4:16-18 says

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light afflicition which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Our view has to be one of Eternity, about the Unseen and Permanent rather than just the seen and temporary. Having a Kingdom perspective means knowing that whatever we do now has some consequence in eternity, Jesus taught us saying even if you give someone a glass of water it will be rewarded, now I am not for one moment advocating: act to get a reward mentality, all I am saying is that our time this side of Jesus’ return is very short as compared to the time we will have that side, and if what we are doing is not going to be of any consequence in eternity then is it really worth our time? We have the Promise of the Holy Spirit, God with us, we need to realign ourselves with the Kingdom's purposes. Jesus spoke about Kingdom being near us and in us (Luke17: 20-21), he spoke of the Kingdom of God being like a mustard seed which when planted grows bigger than any other (Mark 4:30-32), we need to be living these verses out in our lives, advancing the Kingdom, planting, being the careers of God’s Kingdom. And as Jesus told the Apostles, the Spirit gives us power to do that.

 

3.    Power

In the New Testament, there are two Greek words used for power: Exousia and Dunamis

Exousia: means authoritative power, like a King has power over his subjects, that kind of power which can easily be abused.

Dunamis: means the ability/strength to do something. In the passage here, the word used is Dunamis- the strength and the ability to be witnesses of Jesus Christ.

There is an interesting story that I would like to share:

Once there was a battalion of around 100 soldiers who were staring down a huge fort wall, made of huge boulders and stones, they had to bring that fort wall down. A local villager who saw this worked up the courage to ask them how only a 100 of them were going get this job done, so the Army men told him, “We have a cannon, you see?”,


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the villager looked at the cannon and said “that's hardly 100 kgs in weight and even if the 100 of you throw it with all your might it will not break the wall”, the Army men said “ We have the cannonballs, we don’t have to throw the cannon”, the villager said “that’s even smaller, and will not even dent the wall”, the Army men still keeping their patience said “ No, you see we have the gunpowder too”, the villager was utterly confused and just gave them a look of bewilderment “This??” The Army men now at the end of their patience said, “We will ignite the gun powder and it will cause the cannonballs to be fired at the wall at great speed and with great force, and that will bring it down”, “Ah!” said the villager “its the fire ultimately which will bring it down, no spark, no power”.

Just like that, it is the Holy Spirit who is the real power source for us to be able to do anything, isn't it amazing that on the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came upon men as tongues of fire! Zech 4:6 says Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts- our efforts, our intellect, is of no use without the Power of the Holy Spirit. We can be witnesses of Jesus Christ only by the Power of the Holy Spirit, only then do we have the power to:

-to bring down spiritual strongholds

-to do warfare in the heavenly

-to pray for the sick and afflicted

-to bring hope in hopelessness

-to be the salt and light

-to truly love to lay down one's life

-to preach the Gospel

Interestingly the word “Witnesses” is the word Martyr, and even though it does not necessarily mean that all of us will be martyred or have to be martyred, it truly means that the Holy Spirit gives us the power to be able to display true love: to lay down our life, to Proclaim Christ to the world in action and indeed.

 

So we see, the Promise of the Holy Spirit, and the Perspective of the Eternal Kingdom of God, give us the Power to Proclaim Christ in the World.

   Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again),  Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking church in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the Great Commission into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service.  Word of Grace is a part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know more about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Easter : The Resurrection

 

This message was preached at Word Of Grace Church on April 17th 2022  by Colin via zoom. For the audio & video please click here.  To listen to the worship please click here.

We all know about Christmas. The whole world knows about it.

However, not many people know about Easter. What exactly do we celebrate?

On Good Friday we celebrate Jesus died for our sins.

On Easter, we celebrate His resurrection. HE bodily rose from the grave.

The first sermon in Acts spoke about the resurrection. So, for Christians, the Resurrection is very very important. Throughout Acts you see the disciples speak about the Resurrection.

Our text for today is ACTS 2:22

Peter preaches this amazing word. V24- God raised Him up from the dead – this is the Easter celebration.

THE REALITY, THE RESULT, THE RESPONSE

THE REALITY

The resurrection is not a fairytale. It's not a story but HISTORY. We know where he was born and who the emperor was at that time. Jesus lived on earth as a man in time and history. Peter told them that they killed Jesus. However, it was all according to God’s plan. But God raised him from the dead.

Matt 28: 1

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

 

1Cor 15: For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

 

So, there were many eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. This Resurrection is the hinge that holds up our Christian faith. The religious leaders tried to cover up the resurrection and deny it.

So, when we share the gospel, we must share the resurrection story

THE RESULT

Death was conquered. - the greatest enemy of mankind is death and Jesus conquered it. Death could not hold him in the grave.

Scripture was confirmed. Ps 16: 8-10 I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay.

 

Peter tells them that this psalm is prophesying about Jesus.

 

V33 – Christ is exalted Phil 2: 8-9 Jesus became obedient to death, death on a cross. One day everyone will bow to Jesus. We have the privilege to bow before now and willingly. But the day when He comes back people will be forced to bow their knee

 

The Holy Spirit has been given Jesus has to ascend to heaven for the Holy Spirit to be poured out for us.

 

Time is flying. One  day neither of us will be on this earth anymore. Our life on this earth is a twinkle. But our life with Jesus will be forever and ever.

The wicked will get away with their things for a little while- but they will face judgement for what they have done. We will be with Jesus forever. Death is just an entrance into Jesus’ presence. That is the great Hope we have. So, no matter what we are struggling with, we have a great HOPE and Jesus has made a way for us.

THE RESPONSE

 

V37 – when people heard Peter’s sermon they were convicted and believed what Peter said and asked what they should do.

Peter told them that they need to repent and be baptized. And then we will receive the Holy Spirit which is a seal on our faith.

V41 - They were added to the church where they fulfil their plans and purposes in God

If you have never repented of your sins and acknowledged Jesus as your saviour, you can do it today.

For Christ-followers this is our response. 1 Cor 15:1

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

There is an “if” there – We must hold onto the truth. The proof of your salvation is a transformed life. Making a prayer 20 years ago is useless if your life is not changed. Obedience to the word is important.

We are saved by faith alone – but the faith that saves is never alone.

 Is my life transformed, do I love the word, to fellowship with his people? The fruit is a transformed life.

   Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again),  Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking church in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the Great Commission into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service.  Word of Grace is a part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know more about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.  

 

 

 


Monday, April 18, 2022

Good Friday Reflections

 

This message was preached at Word Of Grace Church on April 15th 2022  by Shoma Manesh, Andrew D'Cruz and Navaz D'Cruz via zoom. For the audio & video please click here.  To listen to the worship please click here.

GOOD FRIDAY REFLECTIONS


"Father, forgive them"


Luke 23:34 - Father forgive them for they know not what they do.

Many years back when I was in grade 7, I asked my father why Good Friday is called a Good Friday. My dad explained how Jesus took all our sins on the cross and because of His sacrifice we go to heaven. It didn't make any sense to me at all then.

Few years later when I was in college I was going through a rough phase. I had lot of bitterness and anger towards my friends and family. However, I used to read the Bible a lot. So, I had this attitude that Jesus is with me, and I don't need anyone else.

But one day Jesus took me through some scriptures which says all those who have bitterness and anger will go to hell.  Fear gripped me. Not only because I will go to hell, but also because Jesus is not with me anymore. I started crying and told Jesus 'I am all alone and I don't want to live without You. Please don't leave me.' Immediately I felt His deep love for me and heard His voice for the first time in my life. He said all your sins are forgiven Shoma. I will never ask about your past and you will be there with me in Heaven. What a joy it was to experience His love and His forgiveness! That is when I understood why Good Friday is good.

Jesus took the punishment for all our sins on the cross and we have been forgiven of our sins once and for all. Amen!

In this verse Jesus was interceding for the Roman soldiers and the Jews who persecuted Him. He was not just interceding for people who rejected Him as savior but He was interceding for those who nailed Him on the cross brutally. He created them; He came on earth to sacrifice himself so that the world can be saved from the bondage of sin. But they rejected Him.

What we see in the movie ‘Passion of Christ’ is not even close to what Jesus had to suffer.

Isaiah 53:2 says His face was so disfigured that no one would want to look at His face.

But He forgave them all because He loved them. He showed the perfect love on the cross.

There are two things that we learn from this one verse

1. You are forgiven - We are forgiven because of what Jesus did on the cross. All our sins - past, present, and future sins are forgiven. Now we are right with God forever. We may sin sometimes as our mind is not fully renewed but that doesn't make us a sinner. Our identity always remains the same. We are children of God, and we are the righteous ones.

2. Forgive - He forgave everyone who tortured Him. Let us also forgive and not hold grudges against anyone. Forgive and forget.

Colossians 3:13 NIV

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Always remember...

It was His crucifixion and our salvation.

It was His stripes and our healing.

It was His chastisement and our peace

It was His punishment and our freedom 

We are forgiven so let's forgive


My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?

 
 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Those terrifying words occur in two Gospels — Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 — as Jesus is hanging on the cross near death.
“Jesus seems to have known that the whole of Psalm 22, in some way or other, was about him.”
It says, “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice,”
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” — the Aramaic form — “that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matthew 27:46).
Now, one very important fact to remember is that these words are the exact first words of Psalm 22. And that is important because Jesus seems to have known that the whole psalm, in some way or other, was about him.
This is what the psalm says:
 “Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1-2)
So the words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” are part of this psalm that contains, as it were, a script for Jesus’s last hours. Now, why did he say it? And here is a three-part answer.

1.    Truly Abandoned
First, this was a real forsakenness. That is why. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” means he really did. He really did. He is bearing our sin. He bore our judgment.
The judgment was to have God the Father pour out his wrath on Jesus, instead of pouring it out on us. That required total abandonment. God’s righteous anger was poured out on Jesus instead of us. God the Father gave Jesus up to suffer the weight of all the sins of all of his people and the judgment for those sins.
We cannot begin to fathom all that this would mean between the Father and the Son. To be forsaken by God is the cry of the damned, and he was damned for us. So he used these words because there was a real forsakenness. That is the first reason.

2.    According to Plan
All of it was the fulfilment of Scripture — even the worst of it was the fulfilment of Scripture. That moment was probably the worst moment in the history of the world, and it was Scripture-fulfilled.
So he said these words expressing:
1.    There was a real forsakenness for our sake.
2.    He was expressing desolation, not asking for an answer.
3.    He was amazingly fulfilling Scripture in the horror of it all and witnessing to the perfection of the plan of salvation.


IT IS FINISHED

Luke 22

Just before Jesus was arrested, Jesus along with His disciples celebrated the feast of unleavened bread, also called the Passover. Jerusalem was crowded with people who had come to celebrate this feast.

PREPARATION FOR THE PASSOVER

During the Passover, a lamb was sacrificed by each family at the temple. This lamb had to be inspected by the High priest and if He found it without blemish it was an acceptable sacrifice. 

The Passover was a commemoration of God delivering them out of Egypt and freeing them as a nation. On that night in Egypt everyone marked their doorpost with the blood of the lamb as a sign for the angle of death to pass them by. The lamb was then eaten at the meal.

Jesus is the fulfillment of what was done symbolically, and which was a prophetic act – but the world did not understand just as John 1 says. Jesus was creating a New Redemption story with the cross being at the center of the story.

Few things for us to take note of.

1. The High Priest and his counsel condemned and crucified just before the Sabbath when the Passover was celebrated.

Jesus gave up His spirit at the 9th hour. John and the women were in a hurry to get his body down from the cross and burry it because the sabbath was about to start, which is why they had no time to embalm his body with the spices.

What is significant about the hour of Jesus death? Why is it recorded? It was the same hour with the High Priest enters the temple to sacrifice the spotless lamb he has chosen, an offering for the sins of man not realizing that outside the city naked bruised hanging on a cross is Jesus the true lamb of god shedding his blood going down every part of his body mutilated by the whipping and pain and agony and he gives up his life at 3 p.m. or the 9th hour on that day.

Now darkness covered the earth and there was thunder and an earthquake where the rocks split open, and graves gave up their dead!

While this was happening outside, in the Temple, the thick curtain was split from top to bottom – bring down all barriers between man and God. Jesus’ blood made a way for us to boldly enter the throne room (once hidden behind a thick veil) of grace. We enter now by a new and living way – the blood shed by the Lamb of God and not a physical lamb.

So, when Jesus cried out in a loud voice IT IS FINISHED – he was not saying He is finished. He was declared the work that HE came to do has been completed. (John 4:34 Jesus said he came to finish the work the Father gave him)

The term “It is finished” was a common term used in everyday language which in ancient Greek is “tetelestai[1]

It is a term you use when you have finished all your work. It is also a legal term that a Judge would use to announce when somebody had paid their sentence in full. It would be stamped on your Prison sentence – Finished or paid in full.

It is also used as an accounting term – when you paid your taxes – your papers would be stamped “tetelestai”.

What did Jesus Finish?

There are 53 messianic prophesies that were finally fulfilled. There are in total 380 prophecies. Jesus came to fulfill the law and he did is teteletai.  The devil is finished and defeated. It was a triumphant cry. He won the battle over sin, sickness, death and every kind of oppression.

While the high priest and the religious people left Jesus to die in obscurity like a common criminal, God the Father made sure everyone knew about the earthshattering event – He put on a show that no one could deny.

Now going back to the Passover meal. This meal was eaten at Sabbath after the lamb was sacrificed and then it was quickly roasted and was a part of the sabbath meal. 

Notice there is no mention of a lamb at the meal Jesus had with His disciples. Because scholar says and if you observe the chronology of events, they ate it a day before the sabbath when it was not yet time for the lamb to be sacrificed. Also, because Jesus was going to be the sacrificially lamb the next day. That whole meal was symbolic and prophetic – a display of what was to come.

He was creating a new covenant with His blood of grace. He was creating a new community through His blood.

He was restoring communion between us and God the Father as now we can enter God’s presence by a new and a living way made possible because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross.

He introduced 2 new sentences into the ritual every Jew knew by heart.  

He reinterpreted the elements of the bread of affliction and the cup of suffering in Himself, and the focus was no longer on the suffering of Israel in Egypt, but on the sin bearing suffering of Jesus on their behalf.[2]

The words:” This is my body” is not there in the original ritual. Jesus adds this and about “This is my blood”. I am sure the disciples were puzzled but only later understand the significance of it. Their attention quickly got diverted to who would betray Jesus. Their attention quickly got diverted to who would betray Jesus.

Luke 22:17-2017 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

19            And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

20            In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.[a]  

 

So let us never take the communion table for granted. Why communion – it is a place of communion with God ( a New Covenant)and with one another. 

  Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again),  Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking church in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the Great Commission into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service.  Word of Grace is a part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know more about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.